[Editor’s Note: The following letter, reprinted from the Carroll County Independent, is by long-time lake resident George Eisener, who is past-president of Long Sands Association. Ossipee Selectman Harry Merrow declined our written request to respond].
To the Editor: Do you live in Ossipee? If you don’t, consider yourself very fortunate. This town can find ways to penalize you if you exercise your rights to fair treatment. The selectmen are out to teach you not to question your assessment.
When the selectmen have been asked to intervene on assessment issues, the response is that the selectmen are not assessors. Harry Merrow has stated this, and I agree with him. Yet when he doesn’t agree with the assessor he has stated, “The assessor works for us and we don’t agree with him.” This is contradictory but is consistent with how the selectmen deal with assessing. This is why the assessing policy is so screwed up. It is no wonder the town is flooded with abatement requests.
The threat the selectmen hold over those who would challenge their abatement is a form of blackmail and ends up as a con game. In 2005, after property owners received an abatement on their land (Harry was a selectmen at that time), the selectmen directed the assessor (David Wiley) to review the buildings of those who received an abatement and find any items that could increase their abatement or any items the assessor might be able to add to the property assessment. So those who filed for an abatement in 2011 on their land, are in the process of again being discriminated against because they would DARE to question their over-assessment. Their property will be scrutinized like no others and possibly penalized for questioning their assessment.
When the town assessor reviewed the 2011 abatement of those seeking abatements, he granted abatements (although less than requested) only to see the selectmen take it away because the town could not afford it. Harry has verified the selectmen are not assessors, but are very poor accountants. With land abatements hanging over property owners, and their buildings under review, the selectmen are intent to offset any land abatement by adding more value to your building or other items. So this penalty increase on your building or other items will only be placed on those who sought abatements only on their land value.
Example: The assessor goes around and two houses have identical features – lean-to, retaining walls, wood sheds, docks, and pump house. Although none of these features have ever been assessed, one seeking an abatement on his land could get hit with those or like items, while his neighbor could get off scott-free. He could end up paying more than the requested abatement. Next you will pay more for dump stickers, not having your road plowed or graded, or a similar reason for the town to get a payback because you found your land value had been over-assessed. Ossipee Justice.
How could there be any type of equality with this type of assessing? This is why the town assessing system is so screwed up and abatement applications are so rapid. We need selectmen that understand equal assessing and stop promoting this type of conflict between property values due to this inconsistency in assessing.
Why do the selectmen continue to spread this policy? As long as the selectmen continue to interfere with a qualified assessor, we will always be in turmoil. The selectmen consider this fair, which makes one question their integrity. Why is it so difficult for the selectmen to treat all property owners equally, and not discriminate, punish, those who question their land assessment? Now that you admit you’re not assessors and have proven beyond a doubt just how unqualified you are as assessors, why don’t you let those who are qualified assess and get this screwed-up town fixed so it can obtain some integrity? Stop this foolish discrimination of granting a right to an abatement and then penalizing them for unrelated items.
Just be thankful if you don’t live in Ossipee. As the memorandum handed to me by the selectmen clearly states: “The selectmen were elected to do as they see fit”. We need a new memorandum that states: “The selectmen were elected to do what’s right for the taxpayers.”
George W. Eisener